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Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Old Jan 8th 2008, 11:26 am
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Default Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Tomorrow will be the one week anniversary of our arrival in Oz and I thought I would share with you our experiences to date (including some Tips on things we have found useful).

Just a little background.

We are a family of four (two adults in their 40’s and two teenage children). We made the decision to relocate at the end of July last year and have relocated to Sydney on the back of an employer sponsored 457 visa. The whole process was unbelievably smooth from start to finish.

We had a three week reccie visit to Oz in October and in those three weeks we basically focused on house hunting and schools for the children. We are sending the children to private school and I would advise those who are intending to look at schools before they come to contact them in advance to a) check that you will be able to visit and b) that they have places available. We visited one school who were happy to show us around but at the end of the tour told us that they did not have a place for our daughter. That was (I think) a key piece of information which would have been useful to know in advance. Whilst many of the private schools advertise themselves as being non-selective, they will still expect to interview the child and parents although largely this was straightforward.

We flew out on New Years eve and opted for business class (as my employer was paying). That said the costs was around 40% less than on other dates although I think the price of the economy fares was the same. Business class was not full and I think that contributed to the fact that they did not bat an eyelid at our 175kg of baggage (allowance 120kg).

HOUSING

We had initially intended to rent but in Sydney the number of houses suitable for us was extremely limited and in the end, once we had identified the schools, we decided that buying would be the better albeit significantly more expensive option. We looked at around 20 properties on our reccie and got a good feel as to the areas etc and the values that houses were selling for relative to the market price. At the end of the day it is difficult to buy a property before you arrive and the fact that we managed it was more down to luck than anything else. The main issue is that there are a number of steps you need to go through before you can buy and these are sequential, meaning that you need significantly longer to complete than a native buyer, therefore your offer is likely to be seen as less attractive and you may end up paying over the odds. We were lucky in that the sellers of the property we bought has been negotiating with another potential who finally pulled out and as they had another property they were desperate to secure a buyer. The process was then as follows:

1. Once offer is accepted you need to pay a 10% deposit. This means that you need an Australian bank account and funds in that account.
2. You will need a local lawyer. We took the one recommended by the real estate agent. He was cheap but barely functional so if you can get another recommendation that might be better.
3. You need FIRB approval before you can proceed - www.firb.gov.au – in order to get that approval you will need to show them your approved visa so don’t even think about buying before you have that. FIRB approval can be completed online and takes about 10-15 days once you have all the documentation filed. Our lawyer did not know that you could complete this online!
4. If you need a mortgage then the maximum that most lenders will give is 80% in these circumstances. They will not consider finalising the paperwork until you have the FIRB approval. www.ratecity.com.au – is an excellent site for comparing all things related to borrowing. We eventually got a good deal through one direct (which is the direct banking arm of ANZ bank.

We arrived in Oz on the Wednesday and completed on the Friday!

A couple of other tips:

1. Because you know the likely date of completion you can organise your funds accordingly and we arranged forward currency contracts with Oz forex to cover the money transfers we needed to make. Looking at the rates now it looks like that was a wise decision.
2. You will need to pay stamp duty before completion so bear that in mind when thinking about when to transfer funds.

Overall the process was very complex give the distance (physical and timezone) and because we were not physically there we had to pay some domestic lawyers fees to have signatures (on the loan documentation) witnessed and courier fees to move documents around the world (DHL to Australia from Europe is 3-5 days guaranteed).

I probably would not do it again if I had the option but would wait until I was physically here as it made life very complicated.

CARS

Next we have also bought cars. We have bought new cars and therefore the process was pretty straightforward – take the test drives at home and then buy the vehicle in Oz. Because we put an order in back in October the cars were ready for us when we arrived. A couple of things to note:

1. It is a lot easier to buy and register a car (and complete various other forms) if you have a NSW license. We applied for that in person at the RTA office - www.rta.nsw.gov.au – if you have a European license you will only need to take an eye test (5 seconds!). Note that you CANNOT get a license without proof of address which means something like a bank statement, utility bill etc. They are not flexible at all on this. We got our licences for three years which costs $106 each.
2. You should have no problem getting a loan but you may need to put down a larger deposit than normal and there is some reluctance around balloon payments.
3. On most cars you can get a discount. I did not want to spend hours haggling so I simply told the dealer that I was pricing the car via a broker (I wasn’t) but that I would prefer to buy through him to get the right level of service. Using that technique got me a 5% discount (Landrover). I am sure more is available but I like to keep the dealer on my side.

TELEPHONE / BROADBAND

On the first day we went into a Vodafone shop and purchased a mobile off the shelf. That cost $76 and came with $30 of call credit. Interestingly it comes with a total of $130 of what they call Jumbo credit which is available if you use it in the first 30 days. Give the number of calls we are making at the moment I suspect the phone will more than pay for itself. After the first month we will decide which direction we want to go in with mobiles but that is not top of our priority list.

In terms of home phone and broadband, Optus has an attractive package called “Optus fusion”. This is basically a package which includes both home phone and mobile and there are three levels between $79 and $99 per month (the difference in price is largely dependent on how much data you want to download). They also offer free connection on this package. There may be better value packages out there but this one looked pretty good to me as it includes unlimited local and national calls AND international calls are only 18c per minute.


Anyway to bring this first post to an end I have to mention only two more points:
1. Doing deals.
2. Spiders

Aussies love to do deals and they expect you to ask for a discount. We have bought a few other things since we arrived (computer, washing machine, TV) and in all cases I have asked for and been given a discount off the asking price (this includes shopping in major stores). By the way try - http://www.thegoodguys.com.au – for your electrical needs. They have a comprehensive range at pretty good prices.

We have seen quite a few (mostly small) spiders around our new house as well as two absolutely huge huntsman jobbies. The best way (I think) to deal with the big ones is to have a bucket and a kitchen spatula and then scoop the spider into the bucket in one smooth flowing motion. The spider can then be taken out of the house and deposited in the garden. I had thought that I would be killing the things with a shoe but to be honest they are so big it would make a hell of a mess on the wall!

Anyway I hope there were some useful tips in there for you.
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Old Jan 8th 2008, 11:41 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Thank you, that made very good reading and is useful, i cannot beleive how much you have acheived in a week
You must be such an organised bunch

We did our reccie and interveiws Nov/Dec and will hopefully be going on the Employer nominated Sponsorship Visa to Sydney and so far have done nada! ( unless you count painting the kitchen lol) so note to self...take a leaf out of Martins book and get yourself organised!!!
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Old Jan 8th 2008, 12:11 pm
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Hi

Just wondered how you managed to buy a house, without being in the country and on a temp visa, I thought this was near on impossible to achieve.
But good on ya for doing so, hope it all goes well for you.
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Old Jan 8th 2008, 12:13 pm
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Hi Martin,
That was a brilliant post and very informative. Where abouts in Sydney have you decided to settle?
We are still stuck here waiting to sell our house. Hoping to move to the Central coast asap.
Regards Anne
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Old Jan 8th 2008, 12:59 pm
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Great thread- thanks for posting.

What areas did you look at? Do you have any views/thoughts on each?
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Old Jan 8th 2008, 10:00 pm
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

hi guys, can someone suggest some house hold names for day to day shopping e.g. uk equivalent to tesco/sainsbury, boots, M&S, Next etc etc.
ta,
Mo
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Old Jan 9th 2008, 2:10 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Originally Posted by ANNE&JAY View Post
Hi Martin,
That was a brilliant post and very informative. Where abouts in Sydney have you decided to settle?
We are still stuck here waiting to sell our house. Hoping to move to the Central coast asap.
Regards Anne
In terms of areas we pretty much decided based on the following criteria (not necessarily in this order).

1. Schools
2. Transport links / commute (Car and rail possibilities).
3. Leafiness!
4. Colleague recommendations.

At the end of the day we only looked at the north shore / northern beaches as they offered everything we were looking for even though they are without doubt also the most expensive.

We had a detailed look at Lindfield, St. Ives and Pymble and eventually bought a house in the latter. At the end of the day the north shore in general was very nice and our choice of house was more dictated by the property itself rather than the suburb.
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Old Jan 9th 2008, 8:20 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Hi neighbour,

yep there are more spider around here than we had in St Ives. I had not seen a huntman in over 1 half years until we moved here - they like the car (especially the gap between the top of boot door & roof) & we scooped one (still alive) out of the pool the other day.

Hope you are settling in well - if you want to drop around for a coffee PM me. The same if you want recommendation for tradies.
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Old Jan 9th 2008, 10:23 am
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Smile Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Welcome to Sydney.Blimey you`ve achieved a lot in a week! Particularly amazing as people asre still v. much in holiday mode with many not back at work during your first week. Was just going to say check out the FTC threads as many of us are based in this area but I see Walaj has beaten me to it.She can let you have any info you want.
Happy settling.
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Old Jan 9th 2008, 10:27 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Originally Posted by mr-vmware View Post
hi guys, can someone suggest some house hold names for day to day shopping e.g. uk equivalent to tesco/sainsbury, boots, M&S, Next etc etc.
ta,
Mo
Always happy to talk about shopping.
Similar but not as good are Coles,Woolworths,Safeway ,Big W & Franklyns.These are all local to where we live but depending on where you are planning to be there may be different stores.
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Old Jan 9th 2008, 11:03 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Fantastic update and so much achieved, would love to hear more if you have the time
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Old Jan 9th 2008, 9:57 pm
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Originally Posted by Wilgar View Post
Always happy to talk about shopping.
Similar but not as good are Coles,Woolworths,Safeway ,Big W & Franklyns.These are all local to where we live but depending on where you are planning to be there may be different stores.
Wilg, thanks for that. I just wanted to go online and see the prices in comparison to uk prices of tesco etc.. can't figure out any other way at the moment to work out how much we will need to live every month etc if you get what I mean. thanks.
Mo
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Old Jan 10th 2008, 9:25 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Originally Posted by ANNE&JAY View Post
Hi Martin,
That was a brilliant post and very informative. Where abouts in Sydney have you decided to settle?
We are still stuck here waiting to sell our house. Hoping to move to the Central coast asap.
Regards Anne
We made the move to the Central Coast 6 weeks ago, to the Peninsula, as it is known, near Woy Woy. If you are after anything specific just drop me a line and I will try and fill you in and help out.
Duncan
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Old Jan 10th 2008, 9:23 pm
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Blimey!! you have done a massive amount!!!!

We arrived on New Years Day and have been in hotel since. Whilst I have been at work my wife has been looking at properties to rent in the Lower North but the apartments she/we have been to see, some of them you wouldnt put your dog in. These apartments are not cheap either!!!!

We have another round of viewings on Saturday in Lane Cove and McMahons Point so hopefully we will have more success. Unfortunately we are not in a position to buy until our house completes (hopefully in the next week or 2) but I dont think I am going to buy until the dollar / sterling amount goes back up a bit!!!!

Any tips for cars?? We are looking to buy something like a Corolla or a Fiesta as these seem pretty reasonable at the minute.

Any information on homes / cars would be greatly appreciated.

Look forward to meeting some of you in the future.

Thanks
Markinhull
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Old Jan 11th 2008, 5:23 am
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Default Re: Some tips for those moving to Australia / Sydney

Originally Posted by markinhull View Post
Blimey!! you have done a massive amount!!!!

We arrived on New Years Day and have been in hotel since. Whilst I have been at work my wife has been looking at properties to rent in the Lower North but the apartments she/we have been to see, some of them you wouldnt put your dog in. These apartments are not cheap either!!!!

We have another round of viewings on Saturday in Lane Cove and McMahons Point so hopefully we will have more success. Unfortunately we are not in a position to buy until our house completes (hopefully in the next week or 2) but I dont think I am going to buy until the dollar / sterling amount goes back up a bit!!!!

Any tips for cars?? We are looking to buy something like a Corolla or a Fiesta as these seem pretty reasonable at the minute.

Any information on homes / cars would be greatly appreciated.

Look forward to meeting some of you in the future.

Thanks
Markinhull
As regards renting - that was exactly our experience and therefore we decided to buy, not ncessarily because it was better value (it isn't) but because we wanted to live somewhere decent.

As regards cars - I am not the world expert - but I personally would not buy anything from Ford. Japanese cars tend to be a be soulless but ultra reliable so a Corolla would be good. Apparently Scoobdoo's (Subaru's) are also very highly thought of.
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